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Thoughts on psychedelics influencing the evolution of mankind.

Thanatos

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Why is it that no one in this thread can post a single peer-reviewed scientific study relating to psychoactives and evolution? Nearly every post is philosophical in nature, yet we are supposed to be discussing the plausibility of the postulated theory in OP. This has devolved from constructive discussion to a circle-jerk arguing over what a 'theory' is defined as.
 

Phaxius

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The monkey story is a legend.
Pretty much. The origin ambiguously alludes to a study in Japan regarding teaching primates to wash sweet potatoes. While other sources claim that this did happen (not sure on this personally at this point), there are vectors that deem the results inconclusive at best. I doubt if it would be easy to secure funding to do a more conclusive study along these lines at this time due to the nature of the claims and the huge number of variables involved.
 

Phaxius

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Why is it that no one in this thread can post a single peer-reviewed scientific study relating to psychoactives and evolution?
Not absolutely sure, but seems like a subject matter that would be peer reviewed out of any major publication, perhaps with laughter and ridicule involved (not to mention risk to perceived credibility of anyone attempting such a study). At any rate, challenge accepted. Shall do some digging and see what turns up.
 

Thanatos

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^ I've read a number of case studies that used alcohol and endo-cannabinoids as reasons to why drug dependent individuals are pre-disposed to addiction. I suggest further posts extrapolate evidence from there and attempt to either refute or prove the postulation that 5HT2a and 5HT2c agonism were major contributing factors to our evolution.
 

lovepsychadelics

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Why is it that no one in this thread can post a single peer-reviewed scientific study relating to psychoactives and evolution? Nearly every post is philosophical in nature, yet we are supposed to be discussing the plausibility of the postulated theory in OP. This has devolved from constructive discussion to a circle-jerk arguing over what a 'theory' is defined as.
Well step up and post those examples of peer reviewed publications that have studied the concept of psychedelics influencing human evolution. I already have added a couple examples from articles that touch on the possibility on the second section of this thread. Although one is highly speculative and difficult to prove as it's subjective theory/hypothesis is based on the analysis of cave painting images some 7000 years old. That is like trying to define meaning from art, each viewer brings preconceptions and bias to the imagery. While it cannot be ruled out as a possibility neither can it be proven. I'd love to see a few more peer reviewed publications myself. Your contribution could be very enlightening. :)

Problem with anthropology is that there is limited evidence about such practices. This is due to the material used for such purposes such as mushrooms having limited capacity to fossilize or even stored for any significant length of time. The best bet would be to study contemporary indigenous societies who practice simple agricultural or hunter gatherer models of existence and see what kind of substances they utilize if any. This then can form a hypothesis about ancient peoples and their cultural use of psychedelics. This is not exactly scientific methodology however. Scientific methodology would be analysis of chemicals stored in say 5000 year old skeleton or better yet a frozen 10,000 year old corpse. If there was evidence that some kind of psychedelic substance had not been fully eliminated from the body and had survived the 10,000 year deep freeze it would be some degree of direct evidence that that culture practiced some kind of psychedelic use. It would not indicate how prevalent it was among the society in question however.

Here are my meager contributions: Samorini, G. (1992). "The oldest representations of hallucinogenic mushrooms in the world (Sahara Desert, 9000–7000 B.C.)". Integration 2 (3): 69–78. Hofmann A. (1980). "The Mexican relatives of LSD". LSD: My Problem Child. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 49–71.
 
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ParappaTheRapper

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how are we defining evolution? what about color blindness?- or peripheral vision? - this is more physical than the development of a race orrrr....?
 

lovepsychadelics

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how are we defining evolution? what about color blindness?- or peripheral vision? - this is more physical than the development of a race orrrr....?
Good questions. Have no idea. Maybe the Op does. Your thoughts are all that matters according to the threads title. I guess base your definition on what you see fits with the subject ie did psychedelics cause humans to develop peripheral vision? Probably not. The title is so broad one could infer it relates to physical, psychological,cultural and spiritual evolution. Indeed technology could be included. I think any advancement of the human species both past, present and future can be studied to see if the theory of psychedelics impacting or influencing this development is relevant or irrelevant. The argument could be both for or against. :)
 
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elucidator

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how are we defining evolution? what about color blindness?- or peripheral vision? - this is more physical than the development of a race orrrr....?
When I made the op I was originally intending it to be in the context of ideological, theological, and cultural progression, but it could definitley expand to other aspects of evolution, such as physical, sociological, or extra sensory progression.
 

Phaxius

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Upon poking around, there is quite a bit of information that could relate in some way to the topic. Some of it is more remotely related, but could be used to postulate ways in which the concept applies to psychedelics in particular based on some of the other material.

It's going to take a bit to go through all this and think about how it all relates or if indeed it does. Hopefully it's useful stuff.

Here are a couple full scholarly articles on the use of psychoactive drugs and evolution:

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~nesse/Articles/EvolEmoDrugAbuse-Science-1999.pdf
Psychoactive Drug Use in Evolutionary Perspective by Randolph M. Nesse and Kent C. Berridge

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/275/1640/1231.full
Revealing the paradox of drug reward in human evolution by Roger J Sullivan, Edward H Hagen and Peter Hammerstein

http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/31367/0000279.pdf?sequence=1
An Evolutionary Perspective on Substance Abuse by Randolph Nesse

This is one take on the subject that quotes stuff from some of the above:

http://swilhite.weebly.com/human-coevolution-with-psychoactive-drugs.html
Human Coevolution with Psychoactive Drugs

Here is an article about psilocybin and neurogenesis:

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/237004050_Effects_of_psilocybin_on_hippocampal_neurogenesis_and_extinction_of_trace_fear_conditioning/file/3deec51b0ae030d49a.pdf
Effects of psilocybin on hippocampal neurogenesis and extinction of trace fear conditioning.
By
Catlow BJ, Song S, Paredes DA, Kirstein CL, Sanchez-Ramos J.

A couple of videos on neurogenesis and psychedelics by Sanchez-Ramos J. courtesy of MAPS:

http://vimeo.com/33812651
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRNSEG1DY2s

Currently going through this stuff to postulate correlations and the like. There were some nice looking articles that I could not find full text for, but at least it's something. All the above articles are the full text versions.
 

Kittycat5

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Nor me.

But, I do believe that the recent upsurge in the study & examination of the nature of conciousness is fundamentally related to the increase awareness & use of psychedelic drugs, actually!

& on that subject, I came to a conclusion of my own the other day. Graham Hancock postulates that psychedelic drugs played a role in the appearance of conciousness in the human animal & uses the DMT experience & ancient cave drawings of strange creatures as evidence that ancient pre-human apes used psychedelic drugs.

I would go further. I wonder if perhaps the use of psychedelic drugs brought the idea of God to the mind of concious human beings or pre-human apes, & that our obsession with the possible existance of a deity might have come from the use of mind expanding psychedelic drugs in our collective history.
I would be interested in you expanding on why you believe psychedelics played a role in our early ancestors conceptualization of a God. To me, early man's reality without any psychedelic was almost a psychedelic experience of its own. They were surrounded by so many strange,beautiful and unexplainable phenomena that it is not hard to think they believed these to be more powerful than themselves and to be revered. No drugs needed.
 

pmoseman

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I would be interested in you expanding on why you believe psychedelics played a role in our early ancestors conceptualization of a God. To me, early man's reality without any psychedelic was almost a psychedelic experience of its own. They were surrounded by so many strange,beautiful and unexplainable phenomena that it is not hard to think they believed these to be more powerful than themselves and to be revered. No drugs needed.
Why just early man? For what it is worth, I would strongly consider the thought that our minds may be some sort of symbiotic plant living in us. After all, we evolved from sponges.
 

rickolasnice

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^What?

How would this even work? How could a getting psychoactive affects from a psychedelic have helped the survival of our species (or ancestor) in any way?
 

Kittycat5

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I hope the symbiosis and sponge comments are you just being glib. Why just early man? Because science has taught us how fire, lightning, wind etc.work. We no longer have to think of them as divine, we can just accept their beauty.
 

pmoseman

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http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1819615
I hope the symbiosis and sponge comments are you just being glib. Why just early man? Because science has taught us how fire, lightning, wind etc.work. We no longer have to think of them as divine, we can just accept their beauty.
Sponges, yes, we appear to have evolved from sponges. We see symbiosis in plant and animal species, for instance bees and flowers, but more complex relationships where a bug is able to
simply carry the plant and we see the two as inseparable. "Peterson (1913) has found that the chlorophyll which passes into the intestine of certain red caterpillars is modified into a red substance (vanessa red), which is later absorbed and transported to the epithelium, where it is deposited and becomes the pigment of the wings and of the other body-parts."
Or like the aphids in the link above.
Think of a hermit crab where the outer rock walls transform into the body and the crab transforms into an organ, the brain. Go back eons to the first brain of our ancestors, a symbiotic ying and yang of one body one mind.
I do not think of anything as divine but certainly would not label nature "explained" and it is much greater than we realize, we are not in control of things. That does not necessarily make me want to grovel in front of some marble statue, but I do have to humble myself to my own nature. I can only ask to be alive and millions of tiny creatures in my microbiome see to that task. I would likewise die without the sun to warm by body and conduct chemical changes through my skin; I must grovel beneath it once in a while.
^What?

How would this even work? How could a getting psychoactive affects from a psychedelic have helped the survival of our species (or ancestor) in any way?
Because things we consider to be common safe food were likely poisonous to us in the past, garlic, rhubarb, grapes (poisonous to dogs). That could have happened by luck, as in poison ivy, or it could have been we were forced to survive by eating these, as in European's immunity to smallpox which killed off Native Americans which came from livestock (domesticated animals).
Now we still carry smallpox and other parasites and diseases which then become part of our microbiome.
It is necessary to consider our mind is a maze of complex tasks.Those tasks was originated because of outside influences of nature. Fear of spiders. The spiders evolved that into us. Our reactions to different colors, seeing red (blood) versus seeing green (healthy land). But these are external sources of evolution, it may very well be an internal source, perhaps alcohol changes a function of the mind to our benefit, giving us adrenaline surges, and so we just incorporate it permanently into our system. Copy it and use it. I can not really explain the process, but you get the idea. Alcohol is not only a poison, but beer was also a source of clean water and so it is a natural consequence that we drank lots of beer; it aided in our survival. We likewise would have eaten lots of poisons and may even be predisposed now to enjoy some degree of poisoning because it expands our survival retinue.
 
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Kittycat5

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Let me try an rephrase, as I originally was questioning if psychedelics lead early man to come up with the idea of a God. When we take psychedelics we see things we cannot explain. Note I did not say "that are not there" because consciousness is perception. If we perceive it, we are conscious of it, and therefore it is there. It doesn't mean we can explain why it is there. Our ancestors were conscious of many aspects of the natural world but had no way to explain them. This is why I believed the concept of God was formed. As a tool for explanation of the unknown.
 

elucidator

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^^^ Exactly, I believe that as soon as an experience or concept is perceived and believed to be 100% real, then that subsequently brings it into 'realness' for that individual. This is how belief structures and ideologies vary so greatly on a larger scale, for the young are learning what to believe as 'real' from those around them.
I have recently came to the conclusion that psychedelics are showing us the complexities of how things work/what to believe, and the integration of these ideals are slowly influencing society as we know it, and has been for a long time.


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...

Here are a couple full scholarly articles on the use of psychoactive drugs and evolution:

...
Excellent stuff. Your researching skill is far superior to mine. Thanks.
 

pmoseman

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Let me try an rephrase, as I originally was questioning if psychedelics lead early man to come up with the idea of a God. When we take psychedelics we see things we cannot explain. Note I did not say "that are not there" because consciousness is perception. If we perceive it, we are conscious of it, and therefore it is there. It doesn't mean we can explain why it is there. Our ancestors were conscious of many aspects of the natural world but had no way to explain them. This is why I believed the concept of God was formed. As a tool for explanation of the unknown.
What sort of a thing? Examples would be helpful.
 

Phaxius

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One thing in particular that comes to mind that many ancient cultures were apparently aware of is astronomical phenomena. Stonehenge is aligned with some correlation to this, and interestingly enough psychedelic mushrooms grow wild in that area. Kind of hard to say if there's any connection there, but seems possible. There are many examples around the world of structures that relate to astronomical phenomena, with at least some of these from cultures that are known to have rituals involving psychedelics.
 

Thanatos

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Once again, for the sake of scientific argument: correlation is NOT causality. Psychedelic mushrooms were unknown in every part of the world other than mezo-American until the late 50's. Astrology is just a rudimentary/mystical form of astronomy and had nothing to do with the ingestion of psychotropic plants. Psychedelics undoubtedly plaid no role on the formation of early homosapien culture because the visionary state the plants in question produced would have been impossible to describe without the use of a highly advanced language and culturally significant symbolism already present.
 
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